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Author Topic: Resource pools to mitigate randomness  (Read 360 times)


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Resource pools to mitigate randomness
« on: August 26, 2020, 07:51:08 AM »
I've been living under a rock the past decade or so as far as the internet and the cutting edge of RPGs are concerned. Due to certain *ahem* global circumstances, I decide to return to both and discovered I had managed to unknowingly recreate the core mechanics to Dungeon World. Imagine the embarrassment!

So I've been tweaking things and would love some feedback. Tweaking here meaning drastic changes...

A central change I've made is to assign a cost to lower degrees of success. My design goal includes low fantasy/pulp rather than high fantasy or extreme sci-fi settings, and I feel part of capturing that sort of tension can be facilitated by connecting resource management directly to the mitigation of randomness. Here is what I have:

There are 3 Stats: Body, Mind, Spirit.
Each are assigned a value of Dull, Mundane, Sharp (names are placeholder. Feedback welcome!)
Each stat has an attendant pool of points to spend on rolls (6, 9, 12 with a modest amount of progression each level).

Dull rolls are 2d4
Mundane 3d4 drop low
Sharp 2d6

All non-combat actions are of three categories: Trivial, Possible, Impossible.

Trivial Actions are not rolled, the others are.
Possible actions resolve on a roll of 7-12.
Impossible actions resolve on a NATURAL roll of 13+ (which is impossible)

With possible rolls the Scribe (referee) assigns a Target value for a Clean success based on the rest of the character build and the player description of how the action is to be resolved. That number will fall within the range of 7-12. Any rolls lower than that target, but 7 or greater, will cost a number of relevant stat points equal to the difference. Still working on how to deal with complete failures. I am leaning towards not connecting them mechanically to the resource pools, and leaving that sort of thing to the Scribe to decide.

Roll probability:
Dull - 7-8 ~19%
Mundane - 7-8 39%
Sharp - 7-9 ~42%, 10-12 ~17% = ~58%
Sharp + - 7-9 ~45%, 10-12 ~37% = ~82%

An additional wrinkle. The system is classless, but character builds are centered around a number of Words. If a player can plausibly tie any of these Words as beneficial to the roll they get bumped up to the next higher roll type.

If players are creative with problem solving and the like they will succeed quite often, but their resources will deplete quickly. Resource management and resting is crucial.

The problem I'm having is how to deal with progression. I don't like what + values do to the probability, nor the limited categories of possibility. Merely increasing stat pools seems rather boring.

My proposals: more resources!

Idea 1: At level 3 a player may bid a number of stat points equal to their level on any roll. This amount increases again at level 6 (there are only 6 levels in the game).

Idea 2: Every even level a character gains a number of dice equal to half of their level to add to their Improbable Pool (1 at level 2, 2 at level 4 for 3 total, 3 at level 6 for 6 total). The dice are d4 and a player must decide to use them before rolling.

In both cases the total is added to the results of the roll, opening up the possibility of outcomes greater than 12. But, impossible tasks are still impossible. A roll of 13 or greater does not signify accomplishing the impossible, rather a Dirty success in the face of impossible odds. So, a character facing off against 100 foes will not vanquish them no matter the roll, but they will survive on a 13 or higher. This mechanic seeks to recreate the sort of deux ex machina interventions that always seem to keep pulp heroes from perishing.

The first is more controllable, but will burn through resources very quickly. Especially given that Dirty successes already pull from the same pools. The second swings a bit more (perhaps it needs to swing *more* and a d6 is needed), but I think it might be more satisfying given the linear nature of the rest of the game. Probabilities of successful outcomes are fixed, with there being a random factor for resource depletion. Adding a random element to success might be a good thing.